Maid Sama returns to the UK with a second DVD collection containing the show’s final twelve episodes. As was the case in the first instalment, the series chronicles the misadventures of Seika High’s student council president Misaki Ayuzawa. The quick to anger beauty leads a hectic life, which has her juggling scholarly duties by day and part time work at a maid cafe during the night. Adding to Misaki’s already busy itinerary is an unwanted distraction answering to the name of Takumi Usui. Sekai High’s resident dreamboat/stalker has become a regular patron at Cafe Maid Latte, ever since a certain feisty brunette first caught his eye. I’ll let you put two and two together, but let’s just say that he doesn’t visit the establishment solely because delicious omelettes coated in ketchup are on the menu.
This second batch of Maid Sama episodes continues on from where the first set’s cliffhanger finale left off. For those of you who don’t recall, Misaki had been brainwashed into hating Usui by a gynophobe hypnotist named Soutarou Kanou. I expected that this turn of events would transition the series from predominately comedy to romance, as Usui would have to break the trance (and conquer Misaki’s tsundere nature) in order to get her to finally admit that she harbours feelings for him. I was completely mistaken however, as it only took mere seconds for the Soutarou instigated predicament to resolve itself. One complaint that can be levied at writer Hiro Fujiwara is her reluctance to venture away from the status quo comfort zone – even when the opportunity to inject some drama into proceedings presents itself.
I can’t stay mad at the author however, as she did manage to appease my raging libido with two bikini-packed episodes set at the seaside. Waitresses serving clientele in a maid/swimsuit hybrid outfit may make no sense, but then again that is part of the course for this series. Other absurd plotlines include a volleyball tournament, which Misaki must win so an underage acquaintance of hers can get permission to cross dress. Following on from that is a two-parter were Miss Ayuzawa masquerades as a butler, so she can participate in a footman contest. Apparently she needs to prove the serving skill of Maid Latte’s staff in order to save the restaurant from a hostile takeover. Seems unnecessary given that the cafe owner had already stated her unwillingness to sell the business, but whatever.
Perhaps the most notable event in this second collection was the arrival of transfer student Hinata Shintani. Pitched as a potential new love interest, Shintani is introduced as Misaki’s formerly obese childhood friend (he has since gotten into shape thanks to a veggie exclusive diet.) He migrates from his rural home back to the city, driven by a desire to reunite with Misaki. Any hopes of a credible love triangle being established are however scuppered by the manga writer’s aversion to narrative tension. Shintani is fated for heartbreak from the offset, as he is a goofball that Misaki fosters no romantic feelings towards. Let’s hope he doesn’t succumb to comfort binge eating, once he learns that his feelings won’t be reciprocated. It’s always sad when a slimmer of a year reverts back to chubby enabling snacking habits.
My rating for Maid Sama (Collection Two) is three and a half stars, mirroring the grade I bestowed on the original DVD set. If you enjoyed the first half of this series you’ll be pleased to learn that Maid Sama’s culmination continues on in much the same vein. Conversely, any critics who have detested the anime up till this point will find nothing in these episodes to sway their initial opinions. For what it is worth, I am in the camp of people who liked the series. Maid Sama is a show that I would liken to Good Luck Girl or Super Sonico. None of those properties will win accolades for their visuals or deep plot, but if you share my sense of humour they will succeed in inducing plenty of chuckles.
Apart from a lack of ambition on the storytelling front, my biggest gripe with Maid Sama is that for a rom-com it is rather anaemic when it comes to romance. Over the span of twenty-six episodes the relationship between the leads barely progressed beyond Misaki blushing in response to Usui’s pickup lines. On the plus side however the show’s climax does offer some payoff to the prolonged “will they/won’t they” question on everyone’s lips. In closing, Maid Sama truly is the maid cafe of Japanese animation. It may lack the quality of a Michelin Star eatery, but I didn’t mind because their servings of love and slapstick more than satisfied my appetite for shojo comedy.